EAST BEAMER WAY HOMELESS SHELTER GETS MORE FUNDING FOR EXPANSION
The East Beamer Way campus project that started in 2020 to offer a range of housing and services for people experiencing homelessness will receive additional funds to address new costs relating to expanding and developing the site.
The Woodland City Council unanimously voted to approve an additional appropriation of $438,616 from the Homeless Housing Fund to the Permanent Supportive Housing Project to fund the project’s second phase of infrastructure development.
Brent Meyer, community development director for Woodland, provided a summary of the request to the council.
“The specific request for the council is that we have an additional appropriation just under $440,000 and then move the contingency authorization up to $835,000, which is an addition of about $500,000,” Meyer said during the council’s meeting on Tuesday via Zoom.
Meyer explained that the added expenditures include parking lots to address a need for additional parking for both the shelter and the permanent housing sites and roughly $400,000 for foundation work.
The city staff report noted that construction on the emergency shelter phase commenced roughly a year ago that has now been completed and provides shelter for up to 100 individuals.
The City Council awarded a construction contract to Lister Construction, Inc., in March 2021, for the construction of the Permanent Supportive Housing Project with anticipated completion in early 2022.
“This work will provide the needed infrastructure and housing sites for the 61 permanent supportive housing units,” the report added.
The report noted that the additional money brings the total project budget to $3,159,857 in the Homeless Housing Fund, which includes $525,972 of Partnership Health Plan funding, roughly $1.5 million in city affordable housing funding and $1.7 million of funding from Friends of the Mission.
Staff and representatives from Friends of the Mission — a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing for individuals, families and youth — and Fourth & Hope — a local religious organization with a mission to feed, clothe, shelter and facilitate recovery to those in need — provided the council an update on the shelter and progress toward securing the remaining funding for the housing units.
Doug Zeck, executive director for Fourth & Hope, spoke about the successes and challenges of the emergency shelter — the first phase of the project — in the last year. The shelter is the largest of its kind in Yolo County, according to Zeck.
He noted that prior to moving to the new location, the shelter used to just provide people with an overnight stay where people could come for a hot meal, check-in at night and leave in the morning.
“Now, they could come back and forth throughout the day so it’s a 24/7 program for those that are residing at the shelter,” he emphasized. “There’s meals offered to anyone including breakfast, lunch and dinner, even if they’re not staying overnight in the shelter.”
Zeck highlighted that despite a few coronavirus outbreaks that caused the shelter to close for two weeks at a time, it was still able to serve 274 people within the last year.
“Thankfully, we’ve been able to see 50 of those individuals find some type of permanent supportive housing or other stable housing in that same time frame,” he stressed.
However, he noted that the number of meals served is down compared to what they were used to when serving meals at the shelter downtown, which Zeck believes is largely due to access.
“In 2019, we served 102,000 meals at that shelter and at the current East Beamer Way shelter, we served 50,000 meals this last year,” he clarified.
Zeck also noted that the shelter has found that there is a need to increase staffing more than initially anticipated but the organization has been finding it hard to find individuals to employ due to the current employment market.
He added a quote from Mother Teresa to leave with the council and the community.
“The greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved and having no one,” he quoted. “I’ve come more and more to realize that being unwanted is the worst disease than any human being can ever experience.”
Janet Ruggiero, a board member of Friends of the Mission, expressed her gratitude for the nonprofit’s partnership with the city and explained developments in the project.
“We’re also progressing on Walter’s House, which is the drug treatment center, that increases beds to 60,” she remarked. “We’ve completed the initial design with a local architect and we’re pursuing funding sources this month.”
The treatment center would bring more rooms for counseling and for more activities, according to Ruggiero. It is part of the third and final phase of the project, which is planned to start later this year.
She noted that the project requires somewhere between $5 million and $6 million to be built.
Councilman Tom Stallard applauded Woodland for digging into the issue of homelessness and embracing solutions that will make a difference.
“We are not without challenges in downtown and in our communities, but I think the problem is much reduced,” he stressed. “It’s just a wonderful demonstration of solid community commitment.”